AWS Public Sector Blog

Why moving to the cloud should be part of your sustainability strategy

A move to the cloud should be a part of any enterprise and public sector organisation’s sustainability strategy, as a major source of energy use and carbon emissions for enterprises and public sector organisations is self-owned and operated IT equipment and data centers. These are the findings of a recent report by 451 Research, part of S&P Global Market Intelligence  and commissioned by Amazon Web Services (AWS) Institute.

The report reveals that moving enterprise and public sector IT workloads from on-premises data centers to the cloud can reduce energy consumption and associated carbon emissions by nearly 80% and is five times more energy efficient than the typical on-premises Asia Pacific (APAC) data center. Additionally, if cloud providers overcome challenges with sourcing 100% renewable energy in APAC, we would see even further boosts in carbon emissions savings from moving workloads to the cloud.

Why the difference in sustainability?

The report surveyed senior stakeholders from 515 enterprise businesses and public sector organizations across Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Australia, and India. It found that cloud data centers achieve far higher resource utilization and greater energy efficiency than the typical on-premises data center, which translates into considerably less energy used to perform the same unit of work—as well as a correspondingly lower carbon footprint associated with that same workload. Cloud service providers also run servers at higher levels of utilization, leveraging their ability to share and dynamically allocate resources across customers’ workloads on the cloud.

Cloud data center facilities account for another 11% reduction in carbon footprint by using power and cooling systems that are more efficient than on-premises data centers in APAC. This is because cloud data centers are specifically designed to use the most energy efficient cooling methods possible, as well as electrical infrastructure that results in lower energy losses.

Even greater potential with access to 100% renewable power

The paper also highlights how, in the absence of opportunities for cloud providers to reach their 100% renewable energy goals— as AWS is seeking to do by 2025—there is still significant carbon reduction opportunity. If APAC organizations are able to move IT workloads to cloud data centers powered by 100% renewable energy, their carbon emissions savings could increase to 93% on average.

The cloud for sustainability

According to the 451 study, moving to AWS is more sustainable than on-premises infrastructure, as AWS’s scale allows it to achieve much higher resource utilization and energy efficiency than the typical on-premises data center. Enterprise and public sector organizations migrating workloads from on-premises data centers to AWS tap into our global infrastructure and the broadest selection of services to increase agility, drive innovation, and achieve cost savings. AWS also incorporates sustainability considerations into our data center design and focuses on continuous energy efficiency innovation, from the server level all the way up to the facility level.

At AWS, we are committed to building a sustainable business for our customers and the planet. In 2019, Amazon co-founded The Climate Pledge—a commitment to be net zero carbon across all global operations by 2040, ten years ahead of the Paris Agreement. As part of Amazon’s goal to reach net-zero carbon by 2040, Amazon is on a path to powering our operations with 100 percent renewable energy by 2025—five years ahead of our original target of 2030. In 2020, Amazon became the world’s largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy, reaching 65% renewable energy across our business, with a portfolio including 232 global renewable energy projects totaling over 10 GW of renewable capacity globally.

AWS also has a wide range of cloud-enabled tools and resources to help customers and partners to help simplify and accelerate innovation towards achieving sustainability-related outcomes in their own businesses. For example, researchers, developers, and innovators around the world are using the OpenAQ air quality data on AWS to apply their expertise and gain insights into the impacts of COVID-19 and air pollution. Additionally, AWS has a team of solution architects working directly with customers around the world to advise on best practices and help architect applications with sustainability in mind.

While climate change is a global challenge, the solutions to it can start small. For organisations looking to become more sustainable, consider how the cloud can help systems become more environmentally friendly. Download the report to learn more. And check out more sustainability stories.

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